The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

A prehistoric beast is unleashed from its icy tomb by a nuclear test that is conducted in the Arctic. The only witness, a brilliant physicist, tries to convince the military and top scientists of the creature's existence, but his stories are laughed off as the ravings of a madman. More rumors begin to surface as the giant lizard travels south along the Atlantic, and the professor is finally able to gain the support he needs in order to stop the beast, but not before the beast reaches New York City on its path of destruction!

THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS is the first combined effort between two of Science Fiction's most brilliant artists: writer Ray Bradbury and special effects master Ray Harryhausen. The two would start off on their long road together with this low-budget monster movie, directed by Eugene Lourie. Both men shared a love for 1925's THE LOST WORLD that would permanently shape each of their individual careers, and which can clearly be seen all throughout the film. BEAST would also be Harryhausen's first feature-length opportunity to display his own spectacular stop-motion animation in a series of stunning effects sequences that mirror the works of his mentor and colleague, Willis O'Brien (KING KONG). The Beast's rampage through downtown Manhattan has become one of the defining moments in Science Fiction cinema as a result, effortlessly blending Harryhausen's effects with the live-action events on-screen.

The story line from THE BEAST can also be recognized in countless Science Fiction and Fantasy films from the 1950's and 60's, where both the country's leading scientists and military officials must team up to destroy a common threat. This, and the socio-political subtext surrounding nuclear testing, would have an immediate effect on the Nuclear Era, most notably in THEM! and GOJIRA from the following year. Paul Hubschmid's charming and charismatic scientist serves as a strong lead, with many enjoyable moments also coming out of Cecil Kellaway's performance as the reluctant professor.

THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS is an important milestone in the Science Fiction and Horror genres, and one that would help to shape the Giant Monster movie for decades after its release.

Rating: 10/10.

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  1. Quickly remedied thanks to Netflix Instant Que Joe! You are certain to enjoy it!

  2. A great little film - I love American science-fiction films of the 1950's, and this is is one of the more enjoyable. Belonging to that little sub-genre that explored the idea of prehistoric creatures returning to wreak havoc. A great early role for Lee Van Cleef as well, as the crack shot who brings the beast down.

  3. I have always loved this film, for me American Giant Monster movies never got better. Harryhausen = awesome.

  4. Carl, you should check out THE BLACK SCORPION at some point. The stop motion work was done by Willis O'brien and has some strikingly brutal violence for the 50s. The finale in the coliseum is spectacular.

    20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH is another Harryhausen flick you need to check out at some point, too.

  5. I actually saw the trailers for them on this disc, so I cant wait to check them out! Man, do I love THE BEAST though V!